Wednesday 2 August 2017

REVIEW: Egypt - "Cracks And Lines" (EP)

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: EP
Date released: 20/06/2017
Label: Independent

“Cracks and Lines” CD//DD track listing:
1. Final Heist
2. Cracks and Lines
3. Dirge
4. Watchin' You
5. What Lights This Ocean

The Review:

Many metal fans were introduced to Fargo band Egypt through their 2013 release, “Become the Sun”. Tracks like "World Eater" were a crushing, and welcome, introduction to Egypt’s sound. That stoner/doom wall the group creates is deceptively melodic. Egypt knows how to construct songs that are undoubtedly heavy, but simultaneously catchy.

While it’s true ‘catchy’ is surely not something you’d think of first, its commitment is undeniable. Egypt’s influences, such as Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, enabled able to create a mood and tone, but also to craft music that stuck with you. Egypt takes cues from those forefathers and seems devoted to making music that is artful as it is pounding. Some might consider that approach too traditional, though it is nevertheless pleasing. Toss in rich storytelling in its songwriting and lyrics, and you get an uncommon and surprisingly high bar.

As with a lot of doom bands, Egypt is likely best experienced live. However, the band has managed in the past to bottle up and represent itself well on disc, wax and digital. Now, after several stops and starts – the squad’s released just two EPs and two full-lengths in 10 years – Egypt is back at it with “Cracks and Lines”. The North Dakota outfit’s new five-song affair is sure to please its loyalists and perhaps beckon a few doubters of the subgenre.

This EP gets a lot of heft from the  guitar attack of Neal Stein, who’s fronted other bands during his tenure. They remain true to Egypt’s core sound, while sprinkling in other influences on occasion. The duo shine best on the title track, where the sonic typhoon rises, falls and crests again, offering a tremendous listening experience.

Lots of credit has to go to bassist and vocalist Aaron Esterby, who gives consistently strong vocals, no matter if it’s the 10-minute-plus tracks you might associate with stoner/doom metal or the shorter and perhaps accessible songs (to new fans). He and drummer Chad Heille also deserve a lot of praise for their peerless rhythm backdrops. That backbone has long been an Egypt signature, and it stuns throughout “Cracks and Lines”. The restraint that launches "What Lights the Ocean" opens up into a ferocious landscape for Grahn and Stein to add their own power to the songwriting offered up.

In spite of the short run of just under 40 minutes, “Cracks and Lines” has a few treats you’ll want to check out. "Dirge" brings a psychedelic vibe to the festivities. It is the shortest cut on the EP, but stands out because it is so divergent from the rest of the collection. The opening track, "Final Heist," is a fantastic way to begin. Not only is the band’s brilliant chemistry on full display, the lyrics are interesting and sure to bring you back.

One has to assume touring and life in general are thwarting a full-length for Egypt. “Cracks and Lines” is nevertheless a strong effort to satiate fans until that time comes.

“Cracks and Lines” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook